Sunday, March 28, 2010

The X-Woman of Siberia

There have been many articles lately about a humanoid 'pinky finger' anthropologists have recently analyzed. The bone was unearthed in 2008 in a cave in Denisova, Siberia. Scientists are dubbing her X-woman, and it seems she is a genetically distinct hominin from modern humans and Neanderthals. This would mean that at about 48,000 to 30,000 years ago Modern Humans, Neanderthals, and another human creature co-existed in Central Asia.

At first, I thought: "How can scientists say it's a distinct hominin with only a pinky bone?"Of course I wasn't thinking immediately of the marvel of DNA. No doubt paleoanthropologists like Leaky would be dumbfounded to imagine a new species could ever be identified from a pinky bone. But mitochondrial DNA tells the tale, if we are interpreting it properly.

Scientists are aware of several migrations of human creatures out of Africa. The Denisova cave creature may represent a previously unknown and distinct species, that left Africa 1 million years ago. To give some perspective, modern humans and Neantherthals share a common ancestor from 466,000 years ago. (Neanderthals still remain our nearest and dearest human cousins). Earlier migrations included Homoheidelbergensis from 650,000 years ago, and Homo Erectus from 2 million years ago.

What this discovery and others will yield in the future is hard to say. One thing remains certain, though, that DNA analysis will skyrocket our understanding and knowledge of human evolution. No longer do we have to unearth whole skulls and knees and hands to find the 'missing link'. Perhaps a finger bone or tooth may do.

Will we find other lines of humans in Asia and Europe, or evidence of interbreeding?

If several human creatures co-existed in various parts of the earth, it is hard to imagine a lack of interaction and interbreeding. The question remains, though, if this interbreeding left any genetic effects. Do all modern humans descend from one group that dominated and extinguished all other humanoid groups? Or are there genetic remainders in some of us from some of these other creatures? It's an interesting and sexy question which will require further discoveries and further analysis to answer.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Where Were You?

YouTube is pretty amazing. I was home sick today and found myself thinking about the Challenger disaster of 1986. Within minutes I was re-watching the footage of that day. I remember I was with my grandmother that cold, gray January day. We were both napping, then woke up to find out what had happened on the news. I remember feeling the complete disbelief many felt, when I saw what was obviously a fatal explosion of the craft. I couldn't conceive that Christa McAuliffe could be dead. I thought: "N.A.S.A. would never put an ordinary citizen in such danger." Wrong.

There's nothing like live footage, which you find yourself watching over and over again. It's almost as if you're looking for the exact moment when something else could have happened to avert disaster. But then the disaster keeps happening over and over again. It's an odd feeling.

I do not remember watching the Reagan
assassination attempt live, but later. This footage really captures the confusion and mayhem of the moment. The police and secret service officers can't even get the patrol car door open to arrest the suspect! There's a lot of swearing and yelling. I always felt awful for what happened to James Brady that day, though I applaud his later efforts to work towards gun control. Brady even got Reagan to endorse the Brady Bill! Until I read up on the incident, I had forgotten that Reagan had actually been hit. The bullet punctured his lung, and if it had traveled another inch to his heart Reagan likely would have died. March 30, 1981--- I would have been in high school that day.

When Columbine happened, I was in Amsterdam. I did not find out until later in that evening, after a day touring tulip gardens, when my friend and I watched the news. It was very odd to experience an American tragedy from a European perspective. We felt like we weren't getting all the information, and that there was a lot more coverage in the U.S. that we were missing. We felt understandably a little homesick.

Of course the ultimate disaster coverage caught live on tape is 9/11/2001. I remember it was a fairly sunny Tuesday morning, and I was at work. When I first heard about the planes, I thought it was the World Trade Center in Boston. I worried about my aunt, who at the time worked for the government at the Kennedy Building in Government Center. Despite the idea that Boston could be under terrorist attack, I calmed myself and thought: "Okay. I'll deal with what's coming." Since I worked in a public school with 350 children, I did not see the footage as it was unfolding. The principal decided watching television live would be too upsetting to the kids. The first time I saw anything that had happened was that afternoon when I got home. My mouth dropped open when I first saw the image of the planes flying into the World Trade Center. It was just too horrible and shocking to believe.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Pinhorns of Scilly Cove, Newfoundland, Canada

As you may know I've completed or attempted quite a lot of family research. It's the love of history and the unknown past that motivates me. My paternal grandmother, Rachel Charlotte Andrews (1903-1997), was born in a hamlet in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland called Winterton. In former days it was called Scilly Cove. Through the years I have visited Winterton three times. Of course I still have lots of relatives there.

It was with great luck on my third visit that I found out about my great-grandmother Jedidah Pinhorn's family line. A man and woman in town, both descendants of the same great-great-great-great grandfather, had traced the family. Not surprisingly, they had very inaccurate information about our immediate family, since my grandmother emigrated to America in the 1920's.

The Pinhorn families (three brothers) originally migrated to Newfoundland, Canada in the 1600's from England. Here is a picture of some of the Pinhorn ancestors.

My Pinhorn Line in Winterton

The woman seated is Minnie Pinhorn, & the man standing is Abraham Pinhorn (not confirmed). The woman on the right is definitely my great-grandmother Jedidah Pinhorn.

Generation No. 1

1. BENJAMIN PINHORN was born 1737 in Fordingbridge, Hampshire, England. He married (1) ELIZABETH PITEE. She was born 1754. He married (2) ELIZABETH. She died 1759. He married (3) ELIZABETH. She died 1762.

2. i. BENJAMIN PINHORN, b. 1754; d. 1818, Winterton, Newfoundland, Canada.

ii. JOSEPH PINHORN, b. 1759; d. 1826.
iii. WILLIAM PINHORN, b. 1757; d. 1818.


Generation No. 2

2. BENJAMIN PINHORN (BENJAMIN1) was born 1754, and died 1818 in Winterton, Newfoundland, Canada. He married ELIZABETH 1784. She was born 1772, and died December 20, 1847.

i. EMMA PINHORN, b. 1785.
ii. SARAH PINHORN, b. 1788.
iii. ELIZABETH PINHORN, b. 1790.
iv. JOHN PINHORN, b. 1794, Scilly Cove, Newfoundland; d. 1814.
vi. ROBERT PINHORN, b. 1800.
vii. LYDIA PINHORN, b. 1802; d. 1882.
viii. WILLIAM PINHORN, b. 1803, Scilly Cove, Newfoundland.
ix. MARY PINHORN, b. 1808.

Generation No. 3

3. WILLIAM PINHORN (BENJAMIN2, BENJAMIN1) was born 1803 in Scilly Cove, Newfoundland. He married MARY.

Children of WILLIAM PINHORN and MARY are:
i. BENJAMIN PINHORN, b. 1842; d. September 29, 1913.
ii. ELIZABETH PINHORN, b. 1845, Scilly Cove, Newfoundland; d. 1915; m. HUBERT REID.
iii. SAMUEL PINHORN, b. 1846, Scilly Cove, Newfoundland; d. 1924; m. ALICE RYAN.
iv. RACHEL PINHORN, b. 1849.
v. WILLIAM PINHORN, b. 1853, Scilly Cove, Newfoundland; d. 1926.
vi. ROBERT PINHORN, b. 1855; d. 1934.
Generation No. 4

4. BENJAMIN PINHORN (WILLIAM3, BENJAMIN2, BENJAMIN1) was born 1842, and died September 29, 1913. He married ELLEN DOWNEY. She was born 1850, and died 1898.

ii. MARY MARIA 'MINNIE' PINHORN, b. 1876; d. 1952. m. Daniel Hindy
iv. JEDIDAH PINHORN, b. 1882, Winterton, Newfoundland, d. 1945
v. ABRAHAM PINHORN, b. 1884; d. 1958; m. AMELIA JANE ADEY.

Generation No. 5

6. JEDIDAH PINHORN (BENJAMIN4, WILLIAM3, BENJAMIN2, BENJAMIN1) was born 1882 in Winterton, Newfoundland, Canada, and died 1945 in Winterton, Newfoundland, Canada. She married SAMUEL ANDREWS July 07, 1903. He was born September 17, 1879 in Winterton, Newfoundland, Canada, and died June 20, 1963 in Winterton, Newfoundland, Canada.

i. RACHEL CHARLOTTE ANDREWS, b. September 1903, Winterton, Newfoundland, Canada; d. November 26, 1997.
ii. WILSON ANDREWS, b. July 16, 1905; d. March 03, 1977.
iii. SARAH ELIZABETH ANDREWS, b. August 13, 1908; d. 1994.
iv. NEHEMIAH ANDREWS, b. June 10, 1911; d. 1997; m. BESSIE HISCOCK.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Monument Valley

Monument Valley is a strange land, nothing like I've ever seen, or probably anyone has ever seen. For good reasons it is the setting for many Westerns. Getting out of the protection of your car, and walking around there is isolating and creepy. You definitely feel you are totally on your own, independent, your being against the elements and the unknown. The vastness around me I'm sure I was not perceiving with reality.

To me, Monument Valley looks like a million year old depleted ocean. Not knowing enough about geology, it probably is. You sense around you a once lush, abounding life, with thousands of strange critters, that has since disappeared. All around you there are signs of water, in the rocks, cliffs, the sand, but there's no water. Maybe it's just an illusion the brain plays on you when you're in the desert.

Monday, March 8, 2010

100 Geographical Terms

This '100' list was prompted by my recent trip to Arizona. While driving around I saw the word 'wash' frequently. What was a wash? After inquiring from some locals, I discovered a wash is a dry river bed that once or twice a year may spring into a raging torrent. I guess when it rains in Arizona, it rains, and a wash is the drainage.

1. mesa
2. wash
3. plateau
4. badlands
5. gully
6. ravine
7. cliff
8. bluff
9. prairie
10. field
11. hill
12. mountain
13. canyon

14. pass
15. river
16. stream
17. pond
18. lake
19. desert
20. heath
21. alp
22. creek
23. forest
24. woods

25. crevasse
26. grassland
27. valley
28. ocean
29. sea
30. sandbar
31. bay
32. cove
33. bog
34. swamp

35. marsh
36. atoll
37. archipelago
38. canal
39. cave
40. peninsula
41. cape
42. channel
43. fjord
44. continent
45. delta
46. estuary
47. hemisphere

48. geyser
49. waterfall
50. gulf
52. island
53. cay
54. glacier
55. rock
56. isthmus
57. key
58. lagoon
59. pole
60. circle
61. oasis
62. plain
63. drybed
64. reef

65. sound
66. tributary
67. strait
68. holler
69. tundra
70. volcano
71. wetland
72. brook
73. pass
74. cataract
75. divide
76. shelf
77. country
78. equator
79. line
80. corner
81. fault
82. floodplain
83. flora
84. globe
85. hiterland
86. heartland

87. inlet
88. jet stream
89. tide
90. sinkhole
91. mount
92. oceania
93. piedmont
94. foothill
95. rainforest
96. region
97. tropic
98. watershed
99. dam